WoW Hackers are strange…

I received an email that was completely random last night. The email was an offer for a bunch of free stuff, if I was willing to retry World of Warcraft. It was from Blizzard, but triggered by someone in the game who I never heard of.

Apparently, someone had managed to get my Battle.net password and was using my account to get some time in WoW. This is now the second time this has happened to me, which is a bit strange because the first time was due to gold farmers looking to sell gold in game for real world cash. After learning that my Blizzard account was banned, I had to go through a process to confirm that I was who I said I was, and they reversed the ban. Oddly, the ones who hacked my account didn’t take the 370 gold that was on my main character… Lazy farmers I guess.

This time they just created a new character on a server I have never played before, and joined a guild. Timing is everything in these, because ironically they were trying to play it at the exact same time that I was. I kept getting booted off the game, so I figure we were fighting each other to be online. Now, since they probably would have no use for actually adding game time to my account, I can only guess that it was an effort to steal all of the stuff Blizzard gives you after they “quick-level” the chosen character to level 80. They were mid-flight when I finally got permanent access to the account (by adding an authenticator, and a VERY strong randomized password.) So I may have caught them just before they were going to make the trade. Again, they left my main character alone.

I just don’t see the purpose in all of this, because if your goal is to make money, why limit yourself to one side of things and not take it all? One could argue that I probably wouldn’t notice if they left the base characters alone, but with an offer like this hitting my mailbox, how could I NOT try and claim it? It was called a Scroll of Resurrection. So if anyone was wondering if this is a legit offer… It is!

Here’s what I was told I would get:

  • Free permanent upgrade to the Cataclysm expansion (along with the 2 prior ones)
  • Choose one character to auto-level (or quick-level if you prefer) to 80, which apparently came with all the gear you would need to get started at that level
  • Free transfer service: You can move the selected character to the same server as the person who invited you.
  • Free faction change: You could change to the faction of the invitee if you needed to.
  • 7 days of free game time

When I saw that, I was like “Cool, I can make my character on Skywall level 80, and actually be able to play the game; and I get the 2 expansions I don’t already have for free. Let’s go!”

With the account secured now, I am hoping to get the hacker’s character deleted and have the quick-level put on my main character. At the very least I am hoping they will move the new character to Skywall so I can at least have it on my original world.

Sorry, not something I would usually write about, but this whole process baffles and annoys me. That’s why I don’t have all the pictures like I normally do, I had to say something and this is more of a rant than a real post… Speaking of which, I should probably change my WordPress password too.

Games and Gamers…

Everyone has an image in mind when they think of a gamer. You know the one; living in his mom’s basement, with no job or life to call their own. Perhaps even fat, lazy, and dirty. There are those who fit that description, but the reality is most of us are actually quite functional members of society.

I guess the thing to figure out is what makes a gamer. You can try and define us by the types of games we play, but if you know more than one gamer you’ll know that we can argue about the dumbest aspects of a game. The tiniest thing can mean loving it, or hating it. So we can’t be put in that kind of a box. Simply, a gamer is someone who enjoys playing video games. This means that the Grandmother who plays Wii Sports is a gamer. Anyone who plays solitaire at work, is a gamer. The lines are blurring, and society is finding it more and more difficult to keep up their shunning of this new age of human entertainment.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

The world has changed, and video games have become the new books; that fact will frighten some and sadden others, but it remains true. If you go around and survey people between 20 and 30, asking if they’ve ever read Moby Dick, they might answer yes only because their parents read it to/with them as a child. Ask the same group if they’ve ever played Mario, and I would be willing to bet 90% or more would say yes, and then be able to go on describing their favorite part. The success of recent games like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” is not just because there’s more kids playing video games, but because their parents are playing them too. An entire industry has grown up, and almost nobody has noticed. The ones who have noticed have been trying to deny it, or capitalize on it; there really seems to be almost no middle ground.

The beauty of games is that they come in so many styles and types. No two are the same, even if they share some of the same elements. “Battlefield 3” and “Modern Warfare 3” are direct competitors in the shooting genre, but ask any gamer which one is better and they can go into great detail about why one is better than the other. Same type of game, two completely different styles of implementation. I prefer “Modern Warfare 3,” because of the better response from the control system.

Sephiroth - Aerith scenePeople ask me why I like games so much, and I have never really taken the time to consider it in great detail until now. If I had to sum it up, I like them because of the complex things that make it all work; and because they can be just as effective, as an escape, as a good book. In truth, many games now have more involved and developed story lines than modern books. The process of getting your attention has gone far beyond simply making it fun to play.

They have to engage you mentally as well. “Final Fantasy 7” still has thousands of players around the world (including your writer) even after 2 new console generations and countless graphics improvements in the industry. The story captured peoples’ imaginations and took us to a place no book can… A place where we actually get to make choices in the story. Sure, they have choose your own adventure books, but those just encourage you to spend more time organizing a system, to reach every possible ending, than actually enjoying the story.

Creating a game is a very time consuming and complex thing. It seems that most people think they just sit in a room for a month or two and crank one out like a movie, but it is vastly more stressful than that. You have to code everything so that when you press “A”, you jump. You have to have extremely talented artists to make it all look amazing while you play it (even a game as simple as “FEZ” took immense thought and creativity.) There are people whose’ only job is to make sure that a single level works the way it should.

The easy tileset for the Gnome games version o...

The process of fixing a bug in a game is very misunderstood by most gamers as well. If you browse the forums for any game, you will find people complaining about things that they don’t have in game, or that are broken. Often they just demand immediate solutions, but they don’t understand that it takes time and many people to get there. First someone has to identify where the problem is in the code, then they have to either fix it or write a new feature (which could break something else) and send it off to the artists. The artists make sure it appears to belong in the game, because if the menu shows Mahjong tiles in a solitaire (Klondike) game, it confuses the player. That’s an extreme example, but true enough.

After the code is implemented, and the art work is done, the testers take over. Their job is to find as many bugs in the new system as possible, and report any they find back to the coders. One new feature can run through this circle many many times before it’s ready to be given to the gaming masses, and even then it might not be perfect. It’s easy to say “fix the bugs before you release a game” but the number of different possible actions are magnified thousands of times once it reaches the public. If I have 10 full time game testers, they may be able to execute a few million actions in a month. Millions of gamers will execute billions upon billions of actions, and can uncover a lot more errors simply because of the number of them going through the game; and that’s not even mentioning the ones who deliberately try to break the game in the search for exploits.

As a person who’s interests lie in writing and graphic design, I love games of all kinds. I’ll take a simple game with interesting graphics and a great story over a super complex game with a bad story every time. Role Playing Games are among my favorite, and Resident Evil types are the ones I despise most, because they are great examples of what I am talking about. Resident Evil started off as an intricate hybrid of a shooter and a puzzle game, with elements of a “find the object” game. The story left a lot to be desired, and I found myself never going back to the series after the first one. Role Playing Games put almost all of their eggs into the story aspect of the game, so they draw you in and make you want to know what happens.

I’m often asked why I want to go to school for graphic design and photography; I usually end up being honest… “I want to work in movies finding shooting locations, or making video games. I know that even if I never get to do that people will always need someone to design their web pages, logos, fliers, and advertising materials.” Graphic design can help me get to a dream job, but it will also allow me to continue with a viable career even if that doesn’t happen, which is a win win. Photography can also help me get a dream job, but it can be done freelance, which will help boost my income no matter which direction I end up going in.

I went off in a few directions here, so thanks for putting up with my late-night ramblings. I guess that means everything above is useless, and the lesson here is that gamers have short attention spans. I have a short attention span, and I am a gamer. I just can’t figure out if I have a short attention span because I’m a gamer, or if I’m a gamer because of a short attention span.

Updates.

I said I was going to be making another blog, but for gaming.

Here it is: Game Shorts

This won’t distract me from this blog though, so don’t worry. The advantage of that one is that I have no expectations on frequency of postings at all. So whenever I try a new game, or decide to discuss gaming specifically, it’ll get a new post. Everything else stays here.

The ultimate irony is that it took playing a horrible game to get me to do that, not a great one like Mass Effect (the first one.) That blog is not “finished” yet, I still have a lot of work to do with the layout and graphics on it. Still haven’t decided whether I want a dark theme like this, or the light one that it currently has. Expect frequent changes for the first few weeks. This should be an interesting experiment and if nothing else, it will be an outlet for designing off-the-wall graphics.

Also, for those of you who like photos, we are expecting some weather today. I hope it leads to some cool shots. If it goes well, I will post some here.